Only With Love brewery are another happy product of the UK national lockdown of 2020. The brainchild of Steve Keegan, the man behind former Brighton-based microbrewery Holler Brewery, and Roger Warner, a self-professed avid fan of said brewery, the idea behind Only With Love is, well, love! Love for their ingredients (use of healthy and fresh products), love for the environment (environmentally-friendly sustainable brewing processes), love for their business (supporting the local community). And surely aiming for customers to love their beers too?
Only With Love’s alcohol-free offerings seemed to come out of nowhere earlier in the year. I’m usually good at knowing about upcoming nolo breweries and beers, but I was taken by surprise when Instagram and Twitter was suddenly full of pictures of the brewer’s lovely looking 440ml cans. A selection of three non-alcoholic beers were released in February 2022, consisting of a pale ale, a sour ale, and the subject of this review, a ‘black forest gateaux stout’. Regular readers of this blog (there must be one out there!) must know by now that a good stout is what I crave, with 40% of our top 10 reviews being beers a blacker shade of dark.
As much as I love alcohol-free stouts, one named after a cake, and a particularly heavy cake at that, does fill me with trepidation. Cherries, chocolate, liqueur and cream all have their place, but I’m not entirely sure I want them all in my deep roasty stout. Have Only With Love balanced everything here? A point that draws my interest straight away is the use of Cascade hops in the beer. Cascade is an American hop which many cite as a catalyst in the craft beer explosion of recent years. It’s famous for floral and bitter citrus flavours and aromas, and is often used in pale ales and IPAs, where such flavours are expected. But it’s use in a stout is something I haven’t seen before. So much expectation, let’s get this bad boy in a glass.
The Happy AF Black Forest Gateaux Stout pours a very dark brown colour and is virtually opaque. A decent sized caramel-coloured head is produced, relatively tight and compact, but may only last half the drink. On the nose we get lots of roasted grains, with a healthy dose of vanilla, and something very much akin to preserved cherries. There’s also some very slight citrus in there – the Cascade at work? It does smell delicious so far.
Roasted grains greet us as we taste, imparting a deep but delicate coffee and dark chocolate flavour. The dark cherry builds upon this, smooth and mellow with a hint of vanilla. There’s a light background sweetness to the beer which is needed, but is thankfully perfectly balanced. The drink has quite a heavy mouthfeel which fits the style nicely, with the carbonation being quite light, it almost feels like a cask ale. The finish is long and slightly sweet, with a hint of dark cherry.
Happy AF Black Forest Gateaux Stout is another cracker of an alcohol-free stout, and in the taste stakes is just lacking chocolate and cream to serve as your dessert. The sweetness level is just right in my opinion, and could easily have ruined this beer it the brewer had been too heavy handed. What we get is a great balanced stout with hints of classic black forest gateaux flavours and a wonderful mouthfeel. I just wish they told you how many calories are in this!
Buy Happy AF Black Forest Gateaux Stout
Being a new smaller brewery, Only With Love’s beers might be hard to find in your local. The best place to buy your Happy AF Black Forest Gateaux Stout goodness would be either direct from the brewer, or from one of these shops:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the can)|
|Further nutritional information not supplied by brewer. Boo, hiss!|
|Water, Yeast, Hops, Oats, Chocolate, Sour Cherries, Kirsch, Vanilla, Wheat, Barley, Potassium Sorbate|
|Country of Production||United Kingdom|
|Brewer||Only With Love – https://onlywithlove.co/|
Happy AF Black Forest Nolo Gateaux Stout Review
Not quite a black forest gateaux in a can (which is a good thing), but a high-quality non-alcoholic stout with hints of the classic dessert and other touches of brilliance.